The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting both national and state economies, as many find themselves unable to work. Perhaps those left most out in the cold are low-income renters, who are eying the first of the month with more fear than usual.
Socialist groups - under the banner of Rent Strike 2020 - have launched petitions in every state to suspend rent, mortgage and utility payments for the next two months.
The Wyoming petition, now circulating online, is addressed to Gov. Mark Gordon.
Yana Ludwig is a founding member of the Rose Caucus, one of the groups with a hand in crafting the petition.
"So our focus with this petition is on making sure we're protecting the most vulnerable populations," Ludwig said. "We want people to basically not end up houseless at the end of this. And renters include a disproportionate number of poor people."
Many restaurant, hospitality and other workers have been sent home, as businesses limit hours or close up shop in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, which has already killed more than 1000 people in the United States and is likely to continue spreading.
"And if people can't work, they can't pay their rent - and many people have already been living paycheck to paycheck," Ludwig said. "You know 60 percent of us can't handle a $400 emergency, let alone not having income at all for a month, or many months."
Ludwig said the petition has nearly 8,000 signatures so far, and will go to the governor once it receives about 3,500 more - equalling about 2 percent of the state's population.
"At the end of this month, evictions are going to start unless the governor steps in," she said.
Ludwig added that a general rent strike - in which tenants refuse to, or simply cannot, hand over rent - sounds unlikely right now. But another month without pay for those least able to afford it could change that.
The petition gives landlord associations or state government a chance to work out something else before that point, Ludwig said.
"If that response doesn't happen, I almost feel like (a strike) is inevitable," she said. "And I would rather have people be doing that in an organized way and with the support of tenants' rights organizations, and organizations like the Rose Caucus."
Ludwig is a 2020 Democratic contender for the senatorial seat currently held by Mike Enzi.
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